Anyone who has been riding a bicycle for a length of time has heard they should not ride on the sidewalk for a number of reasons, including that it is easier to crash. In some cities it is often illegal for a bicyclist to ride on sidewalks in the state of California. This includes Sacramento County, Fulsom and Galt where bikes cannot be ridden on sidewalks at all. But there are other cities that do allow it (See “Sidewalk Riding Laws Here.”) At the same time on streets within neighborhoods is not uncommon to see cyclists on the sidewalk, but they are generally either children or inexperienced bicyclists. Adult cyclists are generally unaware of the risks riding on the sidewalk can pose.
Bike safety advocates have a number of reasons why this could be dangerous and result in being harmed including:
- Automobile Dangers: vehicles cross the sidewalk everyday in neighborhoods pulling into their driveway or leaving it and in some cases the driveway may be obstructed from the bikers view by bushes or other obstacles. The driver doesn’t generally stop at to check before reaching the edge of the road, because they are looking for traffic so they can pull out onto the road, not for bicycles. This could easily mean a collision in which the bicyclist would be hurt.
- Pedestrians: Sidewalks are made for pedestrians to be safe while walking. They often listen to music with earbuds, eat, drink and even play around while walking. They are not always looking for a bicyclist so they can move out of the way and if a bicyclist hits a pedestrian it can cause serious injuries for the person walking and the person riding a bike.
- Intersections: Intersections are a dangerous place for the bicyclists with vehicles going in different directions and if the rider is on the sidewalk it is possible parked cars are obstructing their view and the driver’s view of the bike. This reason and other kind of obstructions like bushes or trees that obstruct the motorists view can give them little or no time to react before a collision happens seriously injuring the bicyclist.
When the Sidewalk is Safer
While in some cities or counties riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is not permitted and bicycle safety advocates warn against it, but there are some situations where riding on the sidewalk is a safer option. Not all roadways have bicycle lanes or areas where the rider can be safe with speeding traffic, areas with numerous potholes and grates or other dangerous elements. In these cases the cyclists feels safer riding on the sidewalk and it could be the safer choice.
When it is safer to ride on the sidewalk, not that bicyclists should violate the law, but in avoiding the higher risk of riding on the road then the rider needs to follow some basic rules. These rules can help keep them safe and pedestrians who are permitted to use the sidewalk.
- Ride slowly this is a key rule that shouldn’t be broken. Riding on the sidewalk is not the same as the road for speed.
- Yield to pedestrians, because on the sidewalk they have the right-of-way, just like on the road there are rules to protect people from harm on sidewalks.
- If necessary walk the bike making it safer for you and for other pedestrians.
- Use extreme caution when approaching driveways, or areas where there are bushes that could hide a driveway from view.
- Use caution if riding on the outside of the sidewalk where there may be parked cars because a car door opening can cause serious harm.
- Be cautious at intersections.
- Cross streets at crosswalks only just as pedestrians should.
Ehline Law Firm PC the Southern California bicycle injury attorney (Read More.) hopes bicyclists will find this useful information about sidewalks and the possibility it may not be legal to ride on them in your area, but sometimes it is safer than the road though we do not advocate violating the law.